Fuel visit Cyclones in pivotal Central Division showdownMar 2, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT CYCLONES
FRIDAY, MARCH 2 - 7:35 P.M.
U.S. BANK ARENA, CINCINNATI
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (27-25-2-1) begin a critical three game weekend Friday night with a trip to U.S. Bank Arena to take on the Cincinnati Cyclones (30-21-2-0). Puck drop from the Queen City is slated for 7:35 p.m. ET, with live coverage coming on 1070TheFan.com/IndyFuel as well as through ECHL.TV.
With 17 games to play on their regular season schedule, the Fuel have 57 points – two points back of the fourth place Kalamazoo Wings for the Central Divsion's final playoff spot, and five back of the Cyclones for the third seed. Indy's best opportunity to gain ground in the ultra tight divisional race is to take care of business against the teams directly in front of them, so Friday's contest in Cincinnati has clear playoff ramifications for both clubs.
Winners of four of their last five games and seven of 10, the Fuel have found another gear in the push for their first-ever Kelly Cup Playoff berth. Indy closed out a five-game stretch at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with a 4-1 record, falling one goal short Tuesday to the Toledo Walleye in a bid to sweep the homestand.
Despite falling into an early 2-0 hole to the Western Conference-leading Walleye, the Fuel battled back to tie the game 3-3 in the third period, before a late goal from Kyle Bonis proved to be the game-winner for Toledo. Matt Rupert scored twice for Indy, while defenseman Robin Press continued his offensive brilliance with three assists.
Halfway through a four-game homestand, the Cyclones have won a pair of 2-1 decisions since falling to the Fuel in Indianapolis last Tuesday. Cincinnati grabbed sole possession of third in the Central on Sunday by defeating Kalamazoo, before snapping the South Carolina Stingrays' four game winning streak Wednesday in overtime.
The Cyclones are still without three of their top five point producers, as forwards Justin Danforth (Rochester), Shawn O'Donnell (Hartford) and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda (Rochester) are all on AHL recall. Cincinnati did receive forward Brandon McNally back Wednesday from a brief loan to the Chicago Wolves.
Press 5 for Dominance: Defenseman Robin Press (9g, 21a) continued his scorching hot play Tuesday against Toledo, assisting on all three of Indy's goals to stretch a point streak to nine games (4g, 9a) – now the longest streak in Fuel franchise history. Press' 30 points overall this season ranks fifth in team scoring, leading all Indy blueliners. The native of Uppsala, Sweden leads the Fuel with 14 power play points and a +8 rating this season.
Multi Point Inspection: In addition to Press' nine game point streak, forward Alex Wideman (12g, 22a) has found the scoresheet in eight consecutive games heading into Friday's action (3g, 10a). The previous club record for longest point streak was seven games, set several times over the last three season ... Indy's power play scored on nine of their 18 opportunities during their five-game homestand (50.0%) ... Forward Johnny McInnis (16g, 13a) has two goals and three assists over his last three games.
Inside the Matchup: The Fuel have won each of the first five meetings this season against the Cyclones, heading into the sixth of 10 games on the 2017-18 schedule against their neighboring rival. Indy and Cincinnati will square off a total of four times over the month of March, with three of the games coming at U.S. Bank Arena. Each of the last four encounters between the two clubs have been decided by a single goal, including a 5-4 Fuel overtime victory on Jan. 26 in the last meeting in Cincinnati.
Scouting Report: Cincinnati is 6-1 in its last seven games at U.S. Bank Arena ... Forward Alex Kile (10g, 7a) has found the back of the net in two straight contests ... The Cyclones' power play is ranked second on home ice at 23.8% ... Goaltender Jonas Johansson has won three straight starts, stopping 58 of 60 shots over his last two outings (.967).